Making an impact: indigenous scientific knowledge

Monash Arts researcher, Dr Duane Hamacher

Did you know that the Arrernte people of the Australian Central desert are still talking about an awesome cosmic event that happened over 4000 years ago? Their ‘fire-devil’ story relates to the Henbury meteor impact craters (145km SW of Alice Springs). Turns out that science may have a lot to learn from the oral traditions of indigenous Australians.

With a background in astrophysics, Monash Arts researcher Dr Duane Hamacher explores the role meteors, meteorites and impact craters have in traditional knowledge systems of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Maori traditions.

Duane says, “By merging scientific data with descriptions in oral tradition we can show that many of the stories are accounts of real-life events,” and he explains that by understanding these traditions we are likely discover more meteorites, craters and evidence of other ancient natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis that scientists don’t yet know about.

Duane leads the Indigenous Scientific Knowledge Research Focus Group in Monash University’s Faculty of Arts.

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